Background The comparison of hepatic steatosis animal models has allowed the understanding of mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and the progression to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). We investigated the changes in serum levels of trace elements and inflammation markers in fatty livers using two rat models of NAFLD, the methionine and choline deficient (MCD) diet model and Obese-Zucker rats. Material and methods NAFLD was induced in male Wistar rats by 3-week MCD diet administration, after which, blood samples were collected. 12-week old Obese (fa/fa) and Lean (fa/-) male Zucker rats were also used. Serum levels of hepatic enzymes, Urea, Uric acid, Ca2+, Cl, Fe, K, Na, Mg and Zn were quantified, as well as the inflammation markers TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-6. Results In MCD rats, a serum increase in Cl, Mg and Na and a decrease in Ca2+, Zn were detected in comparison with control rats. An increase in only serum Ca2+ was found in Obese-Zucker rats. In MCD rat serum, Zn was inversely correlated with IL-1beta, IL-6, TNF-alpha, Urea and Uric Acid; Ca2+ was inversely correlated with IL-1beta, IL-6 and Urea; Cl and Mg were directly correlated with Uric Acid and Urea, respectively. In Obese-Zucker rats, Cl and IL-1beta were inversely correlated, whereas Ca2+ and Urea where directly correlated, as well Fe and TNF-alpha. Conclusions The serum concentrations of trace elements change significantly only in MCD rats, which spontaneously progress to NASH. The causes of these changes may be a result of defense strategies of the organism, which is regulated by immunoregulatory cytokines. These results might suggest that the impairment of trace element status should be taken into account when the effectiveness of a pharmacological treatment is under evaluation.
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